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I Didn't Mean To Be The Bully

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“Did u hear about jessie? Shes an emo freak.” I typed into the chat box. I laughed. My friend Jessie always dawned dark clothing and spoke of poetry and the meaning of life. It’s what made her unique. Our other friend Alexis had taken to calling her emo freak. Only we were allowed to call her that, of course. It was our inside joke ever since seventh grade. The three of us were inseperable. I loved both friends dearly, and they were the reason I even survived elementary school. Now in eighth grade, we didn’t get to see each other very often. We all took different classes. Even with all of the drama middle school brings, we still managed to video chat or IM every morning before school started. This was just another one of our every day conversations.

I waited. Usually Alexis was a fast typer, even faster than me. She won a national typing contest the year before. Her medal sat proudly on top of her bookshelf. But there was no reply. I checked to see if the message went through. The computer said it did, but she had gone offline right after. I heaved a sigh and slipped on my red canvas sneakers. Maybe she was busy with forgotten homework. Or maybe she was helping her little brother tie his shoes before he ran to catch the bus for kindergarten. Either way, if I waited for her to return I was going to be late. I picked up my book bag, slung it over my shoulder and jogged out the door.

The school hallways were crowded with people cramming in homework and searching for lost books. Many had their fancy smartphones out and were texting their friends, grinning at the latest funny pictures or frowning at gossip. I didn’t own a smartphone, or even a cell phone at all. My mom was convinced they only created trouble, even when I begged for one, using the argument they were convienent for going out and keeping in touch with her. Still she kept her foot firm to the ground. I always felt so out of the loop.

“Hey! Wait up! I’ve been looking for… you.” Alexis raced up behind me out of breath. She stopped and began panting. She looked up with me with panic on her face. Then she explained why. “Remember that message you sent me this morning? The one about Jessie? My computer froze when I got it and set my status to offline. At the same time, it took the message and sent it to all of my contacts. That’s the whole school Ashlee; the whole school saw it!” My jaw dropped. Our inside joke had gotten into the hands of people who didn’t understand it. Jessie would definitely be the gossip that everyone was talking about.

“How could this happen!? We are so dead.” I put my hands to my face. “What are we going to do? We can’t just let the whole school think Jessie is a freak.” My head was racing and my heart was pounding. It felt like a stampede in my chest. I almost jumped a mile when Jessie appeared behind me and tapped on my shoulder.

“What’s the long face for? Is something the matter?” She questioned. I gulped. How could I explain to my best friend that I had just told the whole school she was an emo freak? I couldn’t. Not without a good story to back me up. I shrugged my shoulders. I looked behind me to let Alexis explain. She had already fled. Sweat beaded on my forehead. I gave a sly smile to Jessie and noted class was starting soon. Can’t be late for Algebra…

All through class everyone was buzzing about the news. At first I thought it was alright and nobody checked their IM. I was wrong. Everyone knew. A guy named Brady who sat in the back of the room threw a piece of paper at me. It read “U r right, jessie is so lame! LOL good 1 Baker!” I felt so ashamed. There was no way she didn’t know who sent that message by then. I would lose my best friend, and I couldn’t deal with that.

At lunch I hurried through the cafeteria line without grabbing my tart and headed towards the back of the room. The last thing I needed was to have any attention called to me. Sure enough, I heard my name hollered from across the room. I looked over to see Sarah Hynes waving at me. Sarah was a popular girl, a cheerleader. What would she want with me? I trudged towards her the popular table where she was sitting with her friends. She smiled and used her hand to brush her hair behind her ear; The same move she uses to get her way with adults.

“Hi Ashlee! We were just having lunch and saw you going to sit by yourself. Why don’t you sit with us? We’d really like you to.” Everyone else at the table nodded. Something seemed really fishy about it. “Oh, just sit down!” She affirmed, grabbing my arm and pulling me down next to her. I laid my tray on the table and tried to smile. If this was a prank, they weren’t getting any satisfaction out of it. “So, you and Jessie aren’t friends anymore, huh?” Sarah mused. She took a bite of her sandwich. “That’s a good thing. She really is a loser. I suppose you’re ditching Alexis too then. Remember, there’s a seat here for you when you’re ready.” She swallowed and flashed another bread winning smile. I silently gaged and stood up apologizing. I insisted I had somewhere to be and hurried away. Who said I was ditching Alexis or Jessie?

All through lunch I couldn’t see Jessie anywhere. Alexis always sat outside in the quad for lunch, so it didn’t surprise me when she didn’t show either. I sat alone at an empty table in the back, quietly nibbling at my lunch. I had lost my appetite. Jessie was now the official laughing stock of the school and it was all my fault. The words kept running over and over in my head. It’s my fault, it’s my fault. They haunted me and taunted me until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I went to search for Jessie.

It didn’t take me long to find her ragged skate shoes peeking out from underneath one of the stalls in the girl’s bathroom. I quietly shuffled into the next stall and sat down on the toilet. Her moans made the air feel heavy and troublesome. I coughed horsely because I didn’t know what to say. She stopped and bent down on the floor.

“Ashlee, is that you?” A small, troubled voice choked. I licked my lips and bent down. We lid there eye to eye. I gave a small wave and a hint of a smile. Jessie looked at me through tear filled eyes. You could say she looked like a lost puppy. My smile turned to a frown as the tears began to roll down her cheeks once more. “Whoever did this… is going to pay.” She whispered horsely. Then it occurred to me. Jessie didn’t know I was the one who sent the IM. She didn’t know I was making her life so bad. I turned away. I couldn’t tell her it was my fault. I couldn’t lie either. I didn’t know what to do. I looked back. You could see the gratitude in her eyes. It was a heart I couldn’t break. I stood up and unlocked the stall and she did the same. She trudged out, her ripped jeans trailing behind her heels. Then she embraced me in the biggest hug I’ve ever encountered. I barely hugged her back.

After school I logged onto our class chatroom. We had created it at the beginning of the year on the school server to keep in touch about homework and activities. It ended up turning into a gossip room. There were several people logged on at the same time, including the popular kids from lunch. A message popped up on my screen from Sarah. “Hi Ashlee! Gr8 2 c u online! We were waiting 4 u so we could talk.” I looked around to make sure my mom or brothers weren’t around. This was the last thing I wanted to explain to them.

“Oh hi. I just got on 4 a sec. I dont want 2 talk rite now.” Seven questions asking why came up. “Uh, im going 2 Jessie’s. I didnt send that message, Alexis did.” LOLs popped up everywhere. I shut off my computer quickly and sighed. No one would believe me. At least Jessie didn’t know. I picked up the cordless phone off the counter and dialed her number. The answering machine picked it up and I hung up without leaving a message. No use in her mom finding out. I looked at the clock. Mom wouldn’t be home for another hour, which gave me plenty of time to bike to Alexis’ house to talk about the situation.

“Oh look at what they’re saying about her! This is so mean!” Alexis laughed. You could tell her concern was not deep, and she was really just getting a kick out of the messages. I pouted. Alexis was her other best friend and all she could do was laugh? “And to think, this is your mess to clean up!” She giggled some more. I rolled my eyes. Trying to talk to Alexis was useless.

“It’s yours too you know. Who’s computer sent the message? Yours!” I yelled. She snapped out of her laughing fit and began to pay attention. I began to pace her bedroom, hoping to come up with a solution. Finally it hit me. “Why don’t we make someone else the centre of attention?” My face brightened. This had to be the solution. Alexis wasn’t so sure. We finally agreed to try it. She would be the victim of a nasty rumor. We logged on under an anonymous profile and started saying stuff about her all over the chatrooms. It seemed to draw attention away from Jessie and towards her. I grinned from ear to ear. My plan was working smoothly, or so it seemed.

The next morning neither Alexis nor Jessie were in school. I searched the crowded hallways with no luck in finding them. All the other kids were laughing and trying to give me high fives. A couple of boys even whistled as I walked past. Disgusting! I made my way to the office and asked the secretary if either one had checked in that morning. She shook her head. I rushed upstairs to the computer room to check on the chatroom. I logged on to see hundreds of hate messages towards both of my friends. And then there were the few to me. We were the talk of the school, me in a good way and them in a bad. I held my head in my hands for a minute before shutting off the monitor. I didn’t know what to do. With my head down, I quickly shuffled out of the room and through the crowded hallways. I didn’t know where I was going but it didn’t matter, as long as it was far away from everyone.

The upstairs bathroom had a musty stench. The air was thick and heavy. I threw my bookbag on the tile floor with a plop and sat down with my back to the stall door. Tears began to drip from beneath my eyelids and onto my pants, making it look like it rained only on my knees. My friends were in hiding, I was on the verge of hiding from my ever growing popularity, and I was unsure of the future. It was a big mess, because everyone was hurt. I didn’t mean to be the bully, I meant to be the solution.



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ilovetoread123 said...
Feb. 21 at 10:17 am
this is really awsome
 
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